Friday, August 29, 2008
Sheboygan police are investigating but have so far made no arrests after vandals spray-painted graffiti across the Lao, Hmong and American Veterans Memorial in Deland Park, according to the Sheboygan Police Department.
The damage — estimated at $1,000 — was discovered and reported to police on Tuesday, said Capt. David Derus.
ChaSong Yang, executive director of the Hmong Mutual Assistance Association of Sheboygan, called the vandalism “unthinkable.” He discovered the damage during a morning walk through the memorial.
“I’m just shocked that this thing would happen. Whoever is doing it had no respect for anybody at all,” Yang said. “I just hope that whoever has done this will stop. That doesn’t do any good for anybody.”
The circular monument is dedicated to the thousands of Hmong and Lao soldiers who died fighting the communist North Vietnamese army in the Vietnam War’s Laotian front, known as the Secret War. It was dedicated in July 2006 and cost $140,000 to build.
Steve Schofield, a Secret War veteran who was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the memorial, said the vandalism is disheartening.
“Somehow we need to get the word out to the community that this is an important monument to Sheboygan, and certainly important to the Hmong,” said Schofield, 63, of Newton. “I’m just disgusted at this. Eight years to get that thing built and all the trials and tribulations we went through, and then to have some punk kids do this just makes me sick.”
Schofield said youths have also been skateboarding on the memorial, as evidenced by scuffmarks left behind. He said supporters may raise funds for a video camera to monitor the area.
Yang said the graffiti was cleaned up Wednesday, but some of the damage remains.
“It’s pretty much off, expect you still see some lines,” he said. “There’s some permanent marks.”
The black, spray-painted graffiti had covered panels that tell the story of the war. Other parts of the monument include the names of those who died and mosaic tiles created by local art students and assembled by hundreds of volunteers.
Anyone with information on the vandalism can contact Sheboygan police at (920) 459-3333.